Thursday, September 13, 2007

NZ snubs final UN indigenous rights declaration

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been adopted at the UN General Assembly by a vote of 143 in favour, 4 against, and 11 abstentions. According to Peace Movement Aotearoa, the Aotearoa/NZ government has "maintained its contradictory and reprehensible position on the Declaration, speaking against it just prior to the vote". NZ was one of the four states which voted against the adoption of the Declaration - Australia, Canada and the US were the others. PMA says: "We will be publishing an update next week on the developments around the Declaration over the past month, including the government's ongoing attempts to derail it and their proposal to substantially alter the text so that it would have given indigenous peoples lesser rights than those of others."
UN News
United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
13 September 2007 – The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.
The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

UN DPI
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), speaking in explanation of vote, noted that New Zealand was one of the few countries that from the start had supported the elaboration of a declaration that promoted and protected the rights of indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, indigenous rights were of profound importance, and were integral to its identity as a nation State and as a people. New Zealand was unique: a treaty concluded at Waitangi between the Crown and New Zealand’s indigenous peoples in 1840 was a founding document of the country. Today, New Zealand had one of the largest and most dynamic indigenous minorities in the world, and the Treaty of Waitangi had acquired great significance in the country’s constitutional
arrangements, law and Government activity.
The place of Maori in society, their grievances and disparities affecting them were central and enduring features of domestic debate and Government action, she said. New Zealand also had an unparalleled system for redress, accepted by both indigenous and non-indigenous citizens alike. Nearly 40 per cent of the New Zealand fishing quota was owned by Maori, as a
result. Claims to over half of New Zealand’s land area had been settled. For that reason, New Zealand fully supported the principles and aspirations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The country had been implementing most of the standards in the Declaration for many years. She shared the view that the Declaration was long overdue, and the concern that indigenous peoples in many parts of the world continued to be deprived of basic human rights.
New Zealand was proud of its role in improving the text over the past three years, turning the draft into one that States would be able to uphold and promote, she said. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret that it was unable to support the text before the Assembly today. Unfortunately, New Zealand had difficulties with a number of provisions of the text. In particular, four provisions in the Declaration were fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal arrangements, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the principle of governing for the good of all its citizens, namely article 26 on lands and resources, article 28 onredress, articles 19 and 32 on a right of veto over the State.
The provision on lands and resources could not be implemented in New Zealand, she said. Article 26 stated that indigenous peoples had a right to own, use, develop or control lands and territories that they had traditionally owned, occupied or used. For New Zealand, the entire country was potentially caught within the scope of the article, which appeared to requirerecognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous andnon-indigenous, and did not take into account the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

2 comments:

café pacific said...

NZ Human Rights Commission

14 September 2007
Indigenous Rights Declaration to guide Commission work

The Human Rights Commission today welcomed the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is an important milestone internationally in the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

“However the Commission is sorry that the New Zealand government felt unable to support the adoption of the Declaration over a few outstanding issues, relating to land and resources, redress and perceived rights of veto on government actions,” they said.
While the Declaration is not legally binding it does set out certain standards. As the preamble states the Declaration presents “a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect.”

“In extended negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Declaration yesterday, the New Zealand government has supported the vast majority of the text. The Commission’s hope had been that the few outstanding matters could be resolved before the vote was taken. Nevertheless, the Declaration will be a useful standard against which to measure indigenous policies both here and overseas,” said Commissioner de Bres.

The Commission will use the Declaration to further public discussion on the nature of indigenous rights, the Treaty of Waitangi and the relationship between Maori and the Crown.

The Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, land and resources and other issues.

The Declaration emphasises the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

The Declaration can be accessed here:
http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/declaration.html

For media inquiries contact: Gilbert Wong on 09) 306 2660 or Carolyne Jurriaans on 09) 375 8616.

laminar_flow said...

As usual from those nations, Lip Service to the Nth degree.

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